Saturday, May 24, 2008

"I'm really rather lumbered with the library"

Catherine Moye has a rather delightful piece at the FT on the difficulties of caring for an ancestral collection of books, weapons, etc.:
As fixtures and fittings go, half a dozen suits of armour, a couple of cannons and an executioner’s sword are not what most people expect to acquire with a property. But along with the lights and the central heating boilers, Prince Carl-Eugen Oettingen-Wallerstein is offering one of the world’s most important private armouries for sale with Baldern, one of his five castles in the heart of the German province of Bavaria, Germany.

“I can’t keep it: I don’t have anywhere to display it,” the prince says of his 800-piece historic weaponry collection that includes chain mail, helmets, flintlocks and battle and hunting weapons dating from the 15th century to the 18th century. “I just hope that whoever buys the collection will keep it all together.”

Ideally that would be at Baldern, where it has been on public display since 1930, though that is by no means a condition to the sale. The castle was constructed between 1718 and 1737 on the old foundations of an 11th century precursor and the armoury, which fills two rooms on the ground floor, has been especially designed to display the items to their best advantage. It is in the same league as a traditional gentleman’s outfitter in St James’s, London, for standard of presentation.

“See that,” says the prince, pointing at a rather holey piece of webbed head-gear. “It’s a medieval tournament mask. It’s one of only three left in the world and one of the most valuable things in here.” You wouldn’t stop and pick it up off the street but on closer inspection it is somehow awe inspiring.

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